Saturday 16 December 2017

Gold Cup tucked under the bed as Russell focuses on races

Jockey Robert Power rests before a race during day two of the Galway Races
Jockey Robert Power rests before a race during day two of the Galway Races
Jockey Davy Russell and former Kilkenny hurler James Dowling promoting an annual hurling match in aid of the Irish Cancer Society
AP McCoy
Aislinn O'Driscoll from West Cork enjoying day two of the Galway Races. Photo: Mark Condren
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

Where would you keep a coveted Gold Cup? Well if you're champion jockey Davy Russell it lives under the bed.

The legendary jockey admitted he doesn't show the prized possession much love. He was at Ballybrit to launch an All-star hurling match in aid of the Irish Cancer Society.

Russell has rides throughout the week at the Galway Races and was quietly confident of a few wins. But for his former weigh room colleague, racing legend AP McCoy, this year's trip to Ballybrit as a punter was a novel experience.

"This is my first time in Galway not being involved but it's fine. It's a nice day, it's nice to be out. Obviously it's a bit more relaxed and I'm a bit heavier as everyone keeps pointing out which isn't nice. I'm enjoying dinners a little too much so I'll have to go on a diet soon," he said.

The legendary jockey said he wasn't tempted to return to the saddle and was concentrating on his golf instead.

"No, it's over. I just keep looking forward and hopefully I'll be better at whatever I do next. I've no idea what but hopefully I'll be more successful whatever I do," he added.

But he was keeping the McManus clan in his sights.

"I'm playing a big tournament in Scotland in October, it's a pro-am so that's my aim. JP has won it twice and Ciaran (JP's son) has won it twice so I'm going there to dethrone the McManus [family]. That's my plan, it's just to beat them because I reckon if I beat them I could win. I'm on the opposite team now," he quipped.

The champion jockey revealed a film on his final year in the saddle will be in cinemas in November, but despite the eagerness of fans, he was dampening expectations.

"It's all right. It's about me so it's not that exciting. They did a good job of trying to make me look the best they could, but l thought they might have photoshopped me.

"It's watchable. The director won three BAFTAs, so if he can't make me look good I'm fecked," he added.

Local councillor Karey McHugh was hoping for a bumper payout from the bookies. One of the youngest councillors in the country, she said that she might launch a campaign for the Dáil if her luck came in.

"You never know. If it goes well it might be a good omen that I should run," she said.

Despite the persistent showers, former Kilkenny hurler turned jockey James Dowling was also enjoying the day. The Kilkenny Cat revealed his love of horses went back to childhood. The sportsman, who was part of the Kilkenny minor squad, is also a long-time member of Jim Bolger's yard and said having a hurling fan for a boss was a help.

"He absolutely is. I'd say to be honest if Wexford were in an All-Ireland final and the Derby was on the same day, he'd nearly go to the Wexford match to be honest with you," said James.

But while he may be indulging his passion for racing, hurling will always remain his true love.

"Hurling has always been number one, that's the way it is. With racing, I'm an amateur not a professional - but the hurling is number one," he said.

Dowling is among a range of sports stars taking part in an annual hurling match in aid of the Irish Cancer Society. The event taking place on August 11 is organised by Jim Bolger and Davy Russell. It is in its fourth year and has raised €300,000 for research to date.

This year Kilkenny manager Brian Cody and legends DJ Carey and Nicky English will take part alongside soccer star Niall Quinn and jockeys Kevin Manning and Katie Walsh to name but a few.

The iconic Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh will commentate for the event.

Irish Independent

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